Thu | Feb 27, 2020

Special schedule for Doha World Championships

Published:Friday | August 31, 2018 | 12:00 AMHubert Lawrence/ Gleaner Writer
Dr Warren Blake
In this November 6, 2014 photo, an athlete trains on the indoor pitch at the Aspire Academy in Doha, Qatar.

With weather trends in host city Doha dictating terms, the IAAF has designed a schedule for its 2019 World Championships that will keep athletes and fans safe from searing heat.

Unlike every other World Championships, the 2019 meet will feature no morning sessions and will have the marathon at midnight. The Championships, which will be staged for the 17th time, will include a mixed 4x400 metre relay that will close the show.

Doha weather has pushed the World Championships to September 28, the latest start date in its history. That's because in August, when the Championships are usually held, Doha can see temperatures as high as 418C. In 2019, the meet will run until October 6 when temperatures typically cool down to 358C.

Responding to questions about the schedule, Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association president Dr Warren Blake explained that some of the changes are designed to move the sport forward.

Speaking just days after the new schedule was made public, Dr Blake observed, "They have introduced a midnight marathon, they have introduced a mixed 4x400m, and they have moved the date and time of the 4x400m earlier so that is something we are going to have to look at."

The change he alluded to has the mixed 4x400 metre relay final as the last action in the Championship with the men's and women's 4x400 events starting on Day Two and ending on Day Three. The individual 400 metres begin on Day Four.

Chopping Block

Asked about worries that the traditional 4x400 relays might soon be on the chopping block, Blake recalled the successful introduction of the mixed-baton event in 2017.

"They tried it in the World Relays and they got some traction from it," he explained, " and I think the IAAF is probably looking at it as one of the interesting ways of moving the sport forward because it does have some appeal to some people."

Commenting on the World Championships Doha 2019, Vice Chairman and Director General of the Local Organising Committee and IAAF Vice President Dahlan Al Hamad, said: "It is our ambition to organise an innovative, creative and exciting event that inspires and engages new fans, new athletes and new audiences and maximises the full potential of our region's first-ever IAAF World Championships. We are very excited to unveil, in partnership with the IAAF, the new competition schedule and night marathon format today. These will enable us to showcase the sport like never seen before, capturing the attention of young people in Qatar and around the world and connecting them to the contagious excitement of athletics."